The Fantasy Jackpot slot machine really sets the tone for my 2014 Holiday card. Quite literally. This year’s image was always imagined as a Christmas fantasy mash up (more on this later). Something based in reality but totally unreal. Using elements from my past holiday cards, Elvis, Christmas, Las Vegas even Rock and Roll, we worked to create a fantasy Christmas Eve, like no other!
Recognize this little guy? First seen in my holiday short film, EVERYTHING TWAS, he’s back “to do the job” (just like in the film) but this time, in a fancy new Blue Christmas getup! A new look that fits him so well, thanks to Jacque Honeycutt, the owner of Texas Hill Country Ceramics Jacque designed the original “Twas Tree” for the film and she happily and passionately did this new version at my request. Using the same shape and design from the ceramic tree in the film, she created an entirely new, all blue version, for my holiday card this year so that he’d fit in perfectly! Want your own Twas Tree in Blue or a more natural green? Want to support a passionate small business owner that has supported me in my numerous creative endeavors? Then please click Texas Hill Country Ceramics and shop and buy!! Support small business!! Support those who support others!
As a nod to my 2011 "Nutcracker Come to Life” Holiday card this metal Nutcracker, dressed in all blue, stands at the ready!
Photo of Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley outside the Ivy Restaurant two years after their divorce. Fun Fact: Jackson kept his custom-made black surgical mask on throughout his entire meal, lifting it up only to fork bites of crab cake and grilled vegetables into his mouth. Lisa Marie and MJ left the restaurant hand in hand to window-shop, when a photographer caught up with them and took this photo.
Elvis Presley Bust. Which brings us to the first official credit from my 2014 Holiday card team! This bust was secured by this year's set designer and prop master, Walter Barnett. Walter is represented by Opus Beauty. To reach him or to see more of his work, please click HERE.
A photo of Graceland. Although, the image is blocked. So you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Or, maybe, you recognize her from her other appearances, you know, on that little but funny NBC and Lifetime show called, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers? Maybe? Where ever you’ve seen here, I can tell you, Ann in person is even MORE amazing! A funny, talented, supportive woman that I look forward to working with and am glad to call a friend! Find out more about Ann by checking out her IMDB page. And liking her on Facebook. And now another Fun Fact: Ann is the mother to Robby Benson, who was the voice of the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast!
It’s no secret that The Beatles are a huge influence on me creatively and some of my all time favorite music comes from them. But the connections (and the reasons) this Paul McCartney doll appear on my fireplace mantle don’t end there. The album cover of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band was one of the major creative design influences on this year’s card (in addition to Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album cover). I wanted this year’s image to be “crammed” and “mashed up” with details, culture references, and “Easter Eggs” to find. Filled with symbolism, if you chose to look for it or notice. Since this year’s image took direct cues from this influential album, I felt it only right to have The Beatles represented.
But there is more...Another reason, my mother is a HUGE Beatles fan, and has been all her life. I was named Paul. Concidence? She claims that there was no Beatle influence…but I think it’s fairly easy to take that leap.
The Beatles were also huge Elvis Presley fans, John Lennon specifically acknowledged Presley’s influence on their very existence. So it’s easy to see why Paul McCartney, in his iconic Blue uniform, was a necisary addition.
Lastly, as an appropriate final tie in, I’m all about the Brits! The photographer, Stuart, and the Digital Artist are both British!
Bullet shot television where Robert Goulet was once seen, but now, it’s simply used for giving warmth, adding holiday ambience, and roasting chestnuts. Grudges.
This is a ukulele. Elvis played the ukulele. The most famous examples of Elvis playing the ukulele are from the movie, BLUE Hawaii. Any questions?
This Blue Reindeer is here as a nod to my (often forgotten) 2010 Holiday card (see below). He’s also here because, well let’s be honest, reindeers make great Christmas decorations! *Fun Fact: He wasn’t bought blue. Nope, he came originally as a silvery gold reindeer. His blue color here is thanks to me. Well, thanks to me and the can of blue spray paint I found in Producer Ettore Zuccarelli’s garage.
An Elvis Presley Blue Christmas Musical Light Up Stocking. Guess what song it plays?
Ann Benson wears a lovely blue Hawaiian Muumuu to represent Hawaii. Elvis loved Hawaii. From his first visit in November 1957 to his final vacation in March of 1977 he would visit the Islands of Hawaii on many occassions. Not only did he make three movies in Hawaii (Blue Hawaii, Girls! Girls! Girls! and Paradise, Hawaiian Style) he also came to Hawaii for live performances, the one most well known being the show on January 14, 1973 telecasted world-wide as Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii. But about that Muumuu worn by Ann, it was designed by the amazingly talented Laura Basci, who also created my Elvis costume (more on that). Laura is a pure light. Her work is amazing, but so is her smile and energy! I look forward to working with her many more times!
Blue Suede Shoes Stocking. This is from the Shop Elvis website: "This stocking celebrates Elvis' legendary jumpsuits and features a pair of blus suede shoes with Elvis’ signature.” You can get your very own, Here.
That isn’t lighting or a digital effect, or even a reflection coming from all the blue in the room, if you look closely enough, you’ll see my wig, specially made for me by Hollywood wigs, has a slight but dark blue tint to it. This is because after it was made by Hollywood Wigs it was lightly sprayed to give it just a hint of blue. Because you can never have too much blue! Right? Right!!? Also, it’s necessary and important to state that Frankie Payne was the groomer on set who handled both I and Ann’s wigs but also handled our awesome rock and roll makeup. Frankie, who is a fun addition to any set, is represented by Opus Beauty. For more information on Frankie or to see more of his work, please click here.
An "Elvis cape” designed and made by the incredibly talented Laura Basci. You really can’t even appreciate half the details on it by looking at this picture. So... go and check out the online VIDEO VERSION of my holiday card HERE.
How’d you know? It’s perfect!! The perfect present for Christmas morning! A brand new television set!! (you know...to replace the one with bullet holes… and currently burning in the fireplace).
Q: What’s the most iconic symbol of Hawaii? A lei. A: What’s the most iconic symbol of this holiday card? A blue lei (of course)!
My second ever holiday card, in 2009, was candy cane themed! Candy canes were really the start, the beginning of inspiration and the production that my yearly holiday cards have become today. More on this later! So anyway, there had to be blue candy canes on this set. Don’t like that, well, all I can say is... suck it!
Jack Frost wasn’t going to miss this party! No way! Like the frost on a winter window (you notice Jack isn’t far from the window. Again.) this was inevitable! Give the guy credit! I mean, he directed Everything Twas (go ahead, look at the end credits of the film), he was the subject of 2012’s Holiday image, and he’s all about BLUE! He had to be a part of 2014’s image!! See #28 for more info on this image!
Elvis changed the world. So many taboos broken, so many firsts. In fact, he still influences today. What he is lesser know for….being the first popular singers to sing about sadomasochism (S&M). What? You think I’m kidding? How about these lyrics from his song, “Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear?"
"Put a chain around my neck
And lead me anywhere
Just wanna be, your teddy bear put your chain around my neck
And lead me anywhere
Oh, let me be
(Oh, let him be)
Your teddy bear"
See! Alright, well now that you know, and we’ve gotten that out of the way…. enjoy this clip of Elvis innocently singing “Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear” HERE. ;)
Who’s that guy hiding? Just peaking from behind the Christmas tree? That, is Stitch, from Disney’s animated film Lilo & Stitch! Stitch is a huge Elvis fan! In fact, he’s such a big fan he even dresses up like him and impersonates him. He does a pretty damn good job too. See what I mean...
The heart of any holiday family room (even a blue fantasy one) has got to be the Christmas tree! It’s the focal point, the thing that you build all other things around. On a photo set, that’s the photographer! On our set, that main guy was the super generous, super awesome, super talented Stuart Pettican! I was truly lucky to have Stuart on this project and to be honest, a little shocked that he said yes, when he was asked to be involved! We had worked together on other projects (along with producer Ettore Zuccarelli ) and I was already a fan of Stuart, but his energy and excitement on this set, really made this year’s holiday card super special! Like the tinkling lights on the tree (magically enhanced by Gavin Rolph ), Stuart really added something special!! Thanks Stuart! Be sure to check out Stuart’s website (see some of the shoots we worked on below) guy! I guarantee that you’ll be seeing lots more from him!!
When searching for cool props for your blue holiday set and you see inflatable blue dice online you think, HECK YES! When on set and you are trying to blow up two said inflatable dice you think. Why? God why?!!
"Let Earth Receive Her King” that famous lyric from the iconic Christmas song, Joy to the World, was actually largely responsible for this year’s holiday card image. “How," you ask? Well let me tell you... While I was driving from Sacramento back to Los Angeles (this was in August) I was listening to Christmas music (Don’t judge! I have to start early), brainstorming a couple of ideas when suddenly Elvis’ Blue Christmas came on and I was immediately struck by it and immediately liked the idea of an Elvis inspired card. As I was rolling ideas around the song ended, and the very next song to come on was a version of Joy to the World with a heavy choral arrangement. As the choir sang with passion “let earth receive her king” I was struck! In my mind’s eye, I saw (pretty much) the image that you see today! Las Vegas, Elvis, Blue everywhere! Just taking that lyric, and playing with it a bit, tweaking it to make reference to another King, was the key. The king of Rock and Roll Blue Christmas style! Inspiration strikes in all kinds of ways. Sometimes in August while you drive south alone on the I-5 listening to holiday music!
A photo of Elvis with Colonel Tom Parker. The Colonel was Elvis manager and a controversial figure. Don’t know much about him? Well that’s what the internet is for! Find out more HERE. He and Elvis relationship was an interesting one!
The top position is reserved for a real special guy, rest his soul. That’s Bruce Bailey, he’s producer Ettore Zuccarelli’s dear departed basset hound dog! Bruce, being an amazing dog, made a perfect edition to my holiday card. He’d take the top photo position as remembrance to him, thanks to Ettore (who produced this shoot), and he’d also nicely fit my Hound Dog quota. I mean, you can’t have an elvis tribute without a hound dog, right? Speaking of dogs…er, I mean, speaking of working like a dog, Ettore Zuccarelli did an amazing job, as he always does, producing this shoot and bringing the various elements together. He secured many of the talent, secured the location and generally organized all the overall details to make this thing happen. I could NOT have done it without him. Ettore is an amazing man with an energy and a light unmatched by anyone else I know! Thanks Ettore!
Please support Ettore as he supports me. Check out his website HERE. Like his company on FACEBOOK. And FOLLOW him on Twitter.
**And as a bonus, be sure to check out the EZ Productions Promos, here. A project that we had a lot of fun working on together. The promos premiered all year long in 2014, with the final Holiday themed promo premiering on 12/12/14. The promos acted as a humorous advertisement for Ettore’s Production company, EZ Productions and were produced by both of us. They also gave me a creative outlet since they were written and directed by me. The promos did allow Ettore to do something new too. Act. Acting isn’t new to him, since he’s always putting on a show everywhere he goes... but this time, at least it was on camera. ;) Enjoy! Facebook | Twitter
Who is that cute kid dressed as Elvis? That’s my totally rad (and yes, still cute) digital artist Gavin Rolph!! As a kid he dressed up as Elvis, guitar and all, and I couldn’t resist adding him to this year’s image! I mean, I kind of had to! Right? Gavin kindly obliged with the childhood pic (being the digital artist and all it probably would have been hard to do without his approval) and I’m glad he did! Gavin was also the amazing digital artist on last year’s patriotic World War 2 Everything Twas inspired holiday card image. He also did images for 2012’s Jack Frost! He worked super hard to make an amazing image last year and the year before (I have high standards and a specific vision) and again this year! We’ve now known each other for year’s, and worked on various projects and photos together (see below). Gavin is always a class act, and someone I’m glad to create together and call a friend. He may even take a more prominent role for 2015’s Holiday card! Stay tuned! If you need an amazing digital artist, or photographer don’t hesitate to contact him. I highly recommend him! Please see Gavin’s website HERE and support him on FACEBOOK and TWITTER
How AMAZING is this photo of papa Elvis (70’s Blue style) with his daughter Lisa Marie Presley? Well, that’s why it’s on the wall!
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson again. What? I’m a really big fan of Michael Jackson! So any excuse to get him in the card!
This is a photo of an alternate image from 2009’s Candy Cane Holiday card shoot. Way back in 2009! The second holiday card I ever did! Speaking of past years… here’s another FUN FACT! Jamie Dedeaux is the only person (besides me, obviously!) to have worked on and been involved with all 7 of my holiday card images! All seven years of holiday cards!! She’s been there! From Lights to Nutcrackers to Blue Christmas she was there! She’s been my Holiday Card good luck charm! Helping in so many ways, supporting me, thanklessly doing whatever needed done! Helping me brainstorm, holding lights, spraying trees “snow colored”, setting up the craft table, giving input, camera assisting, securing paperwork, feeding the team, and just about anything else you can think of! Always with a smile (well, mostly with a smile!). Jamie is an amazing woman, and amazing worker, and an amazing friend. I’m a better man because of her. Thank you Jamie. I love you.
Photo of my maternal grandfather and grandmother, Russell and Anne Friddle. Many people don’t realize that some of the inspiration for my short Holiday film, Everything Twas, specifically the World War 2 chapters, were from this photo of my grandparents. I love this photo and feel like it communicates so much about a time that wasn’t that long ago, but a time that was very different then now. I often like to imagine what they were thinking the moment this photo was taken. Their fears, their hopes. Life filled with so much innocence and hope and promise but life also filled with fear and darkness about the future.
The inspiration really came quite unrelated to the holidays, initially. It came when writing my short film, Everything As Is, who’s lead character took much inspiration from my “Grandma Next Door” as I called her growing up (we lived next door to her). While writing Everything As Is and specifically writing the story that Agnes (the old woman) tells to her new neighbor about the ceramic Christmas tree I began to imagine if this epic story she tells had really happened. What an amazing idea! I liked it so much, I decided that it couldn’t be just a character’s rambling in Everything As Is, it had to be it’s own story, and so Everything Twas was born. Eventually this photo would also directly inspire last year’s 2013 holiday card. I take great pride in remembering my family and honoring all those that served and serve to protect our freedoms.
If all that got a little too heavy for you, why not take a moment and then check out "Twas the Night Before... He Left For War," a much lighter and humorous, 1950’s style, take on the Everything Twas and the story told in Everything As Is HERE
Because life always ends in death. Always. Avoiding it, denying it, or hiding from it never works. All great things (and some not so great things) must come to an end.
But life is not about death. Life is about living, breathing, creating, laughing, and being inspired. Life is about how we remember those no longer with us.
I say this with no ego at all, but one of the main reasons I do these yearly holiday cards is to inspire! Sure, it’s a creative outlet for me to, but I create them as a gift and to hopefully inspire others! It’s my chance to spread a little holiday joy in the hopes that the tiny pebble dropped in the pond will cause a ripple far beyond! Because legacies are built by the living, not the departed!
On a side note, in creating the materials for this online portion of my holiday card I made many discoveries, saw new stuff, learned new things, and was often surprised. One such surprise, which is a bit morbid, is how closely Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley’s deaths mirrored one another. This is not to start a conspiracy theory but only to illustrate the pitfalls of talented men, left to their own devices and with no one around them but enablers and “yes men” to tell them no or give them perspective. Sometimes too much is not enough.
For more on the day Elvis died, and just a touch of conspiracy paranoia, click HERE
Jail bars, in the style of blue, as a nod to my favorite Elvis song, Jailhouse rock. The sequence in the 1957 film, Jailhouse Rock, where Elvis dances and sings the title song is easily in my top 10 of most creatively influential performances. There with Michael Jackson's performance of Man in the Mirror (on the Grammys) and Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract” music video is this performance by Elvis. Iconic. Hugly influential. Unforgettable. Enjoy!
The famous home of Elvis, Graceland, at winter time.
The final number, it seems, ends with me. Appropriate I guess.
And with that, I want to thank you for being here, and reading some or all of what I wrote.
Thank you for following me, loving me, liking me, enjoying me, being inspired by me, accepting me, supporting, discovering me, watching me, knowing me. Thank you for being a part of my life.
I’m so appreciative of all the different people who’s lives and journeys have intersected with mine. Thank you for inspiring me every single day.
I wish you success and health and great happiness in 2015, and for now, I wish you a very Happy Holidays!
All year long!