An Ulster County resident is making a big splash in Hollywood.
Andrew “Andy” Pagana, who shares a home between Ulster County and Burbank, California, has been working hard to brand himself and pave his own path in Hollywood. Born and raised in Newburgh, Pagana always had a penchant for film. Plus, he’s really funny.
Before he had to move most of his belongings to storage because of a leaky roof, his Esopus apartment was lined with old videotapes and reels with some antiquated editing equipment and even more contemporary tools. On one of his bookshelves sits a bundle of wood that was a prop in the latest “Indiana Jones” film. His refrigerator is packed with batteries and film as well as a whole shelf of Buzz Cola that was a promotion for the 2007 “The Simpsons Movie.” There is also a place in his apartment that is designated for painting; Andy is an avid oil painter, whenever he can find the time.
In 2004 Pagana and co-writer Justin Thomas won the Bluecat screenwriting competition and was also a semifinalist in the Nicholl Fellowship for the script, “The Man In The Rearview Mirror.” They would later sell the screenplay in hopes that it would be made into a feature film.
Despite his success in screenwriting, Pagana’s true passion is directing. So much that in 2007 he created, wrote, directed, produced, edited and starred in his own children’s television show, “The Nonsense Box”, which he shot almost entirely in his apartment. “Well, ‘starring’ is sort of accurate” he said, “In actuality, it stars a bunch of puppets, in which I happen to play a good portion of them”.
For this, he learned to carve and make his own Muppet-style hand puppets, and grabbed a handful of friends and family members and turned them into actors. And in the end it payed off. Not only did he go on to create a season of episodes currently running on Kabillion’s Video On Demand network, along with a full album of songs available on iTunes, the pilot landed him a job in Hollywood, directing a children’s program called “Slangman’s World.
“Slangman’s World” is for children ages 2 to 6 to learn about foreign cultures and languages as well as magic and wonderment.
Lately Pagana has moved on to a more grown-up genre with his comedy shtick that features himself and fellow comedian, C.M. Schwartzy. The two have formed the duo “Schwartzy and Pagana.” Their routine includes dressing as early Hollywood era suits and reviewing, or more accurately criticizing, new major Hollywood releases. They also perform red carpet interviews before any other interviews are done. And no, that doesn’t denote exclusivity. They just get there very early and there aren’t a lot of people around. They are also responsible for the 2011 short, “Halloweenies.” All of their videos can be found both on YouTube and Schwartzyandpagana.com.
Pagana has more recently been producing several full-length feature films. One that is in post-production is called “Raze”. The film features Zoë Bell and Rachel Nichols. He is also currently producing a high octane action film called “The Devil’s Ink,” starring Zoë Bell, RJ Mitte, Richard Cabral, Yvette Yates and Sandra Vergara, to be shot in early 2013.
And recently he has also announced his two most personal feature film projects, both starring his favorite characters, Schwartzy and Pagana. The first, “The Schwartzy and Pagana Amazing Motion Picture Motion Picture” (that is not a typo) is a documentary on Hollywood based on their ever-growing web series. “We’ve shot a bunch of interviews with the likes of Kevin Smith, Illeana Douglas, Chris Isaak, and Matt Sorum for our show that we never used, so we’re going to compile this footage and release it in a feature. We were even there when Peter O’Toole got his hand prints in the cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, so it’s pretty cool that although he didn’t grant us an interview, he actually makes a cameo in our doc.”
The other Schwartzy and Pagana feature is an Abbott and Costello-stlye movie titled “Gangbusters” in which the boys play a pair of incompetent Hollywood talent agents. Orson Spielcock III, the director of their web series and many of their short films, is slated to direct. “It’s perfect for these two guys” Pagana said with a slight smile, “and it allows us to utilize our connections to every known actor, producer, writer or whatever, to give them all cameos in our picture…. I ask everyone I work with to do a cameo for us,” and he let out a chuckle.
Amidst his hectic schedule, Pagana was able to talk for a short while and answer a few questions.
TLR: How are things going right now in Hollywood? What’s new?
Pagana: There is always such a fine line between success and failure and I’m never quite sure what side of that line I am teetering. One moment, one change in how the wind blows can make all the difference. I’m still alive and I have so many irons in the fire that success is imminent.
TLR: Did you ever think that you would be where you are right now?
Pagana: I actually thought I’d be much farther along than I am now. But I also had no idea that the road I am on would be the one that I took. What is interesting however, in very small ways, I think I have made all my childhood fantasies come true. I am part of a comedy team, I have a puppet show, I own a studio, I’ve sold a screenplay, etc. And with that, the future seems so open to having it all on a much bigger scale.
TLR: Any advice for Hollywood would-be’s?
Pagana: Advice is a funny thing. For me it changes on my mood. Here are just some random thoughts because I might have completely different advice for you tomorrow… Take your career into your own hands. Never take it personal. Use your crew, sit your ass down, and be humble and thankful. Be nice to the assistants, they run the town. Everyone is out for themselves and nobody will return a favor so if you do something nice for someone make sure you’re doing it because you want to. Brand yourself. Create in a way that suggests that you’re the only one that can do it. Take chances.
TLR: What do you do in your free time?
Pagana: Free time? What is free time? What I do for fun is my work with my comedy partner C.M. Schwartzy on our comedy routine.
TLR: Is there anything you can tell me about your soon to be released feature, Raze?
Pagana: The goal for Raze was to make a movie that had the best girl vs. girl fights ever shot. For that we got Zoë Bell, the greatest stuntwoman in the world, who also happens to be a fantastic actress, and pitted her against a bunch of girls including Rachel Nichols. The cast was fantastic and the movie was a blast to make and so much love went into this movie that I think the audience is really going to feel that when they watch it. Also, me and my comedy partner got to act in the movie, but not in our typical comedy roles. And that was a ton of fun to do. I think I got the best scene in the movie – HAHAHA!
TLR: What about future projects?
Pagana: I’m working on so many things. I mentioned Raze and Devil’s Ink, plus the two Schwartzy and Pagana features, among other outlets for those two guys. The Nonsense Box is about to go into production on its second season, and we’re already working on a second album. Also, I am currently working on developing a script that revolves around my hometown of Esopus, N.Y. with a few of my close friends there. I would LOVE to come home and shoot a movie with the boys back home.