Saturday, September 30, 2006

After NYC, Date Number One returns to Kensington on Thu 10/5

Subodh Samudre & Jewel Greenberg from Date Number One
Copyright 2006 Sujewa Ekanayake/Wild Diner Films

After its rocktastic NYC premiere on 8/31, Date Number One resumes its screenings with a show at Capital City Microcinema/Kensington Row Bookshop on Thu 10/5. Here's all the info., see ya there DC people:

a comedy about several first dates
a movie by sujewa ekanayake

Thu Oct 5, 2006 :: 7:30 PM :: $5
Capital City Microcinema at
Kensington Row Bookshop
3786 Howard Ave., Kensington, MD 20895
301.949.9416 :: MapQuest :: Directions

"Date Number One" is a comedy about several first dates. This 115 minute movie is made up of 5 different stories: Story 1: Just Another Ninja Searching For Love, about a ninja who goes on a blind date (ninja is played by John Stabb Schroeder from the DC punk band G.I.), Story 2: A Romantic Dinner For 3, about a woman attempting to add a third partner to a romantic relationship, Story 3: Washington "City Of Love" DC/Start Over, about a writer who tries to get back together with his ex-girlfriend, Story 4: Air Quotes Woman, about a woman who always uses air quotes, and her search for a new boyfriend, Story 5: The Superdelicious French Lesson, about a first date where a character learns a little bit of French in an unusual way.
Featuring Hot DC Indie Film Stars John Stabb Schroeder, Julia Stemper, Jennifer Blakemore, Shervin Boloorian, Dele Williams, Steve Lee, Kelly Ham, Christine D. Lee, Fritz Flad, Subodh Samudre, Jewel Greenberg
Not Rated * 115 Minutes * yummy


"The film is about as charming as they come...presents a world in which cultures don't clash, they mesh. It's refreshing to see characters who all appear to have a natural optimism, as opposed to the typical indie-film predilection for bitterness and cruelty. "
- Michael Tully, Rotterdam & SXSW film festivals selected filmmaker

"I found the characters and the premise sexy, sexy, sexy."
- Jerry Brewington, Hollywood Is Talking blog, on Story 2 of Date Number One

"...witty...often inventive...and, even better, airy: characters are given time and space to spell out their views...views that never bear the artificial markings of a Hollywood screenwriter's compulsion to reduce them to sound-bites."
- David Hudson, Editor, GreenCine Daily blog

"FIVE really entertaining, fully realized romantic interludes...a shamefully rare achievement"
- Tom Kipp, Seattle audience member, former film reviewer for Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger

"Heartfelt...poignant...I loved it! "
- Jon Moritsugu, award winning filmmaker

"Date Number One is quite funny...twentysomethings and occasional thirtysomethings looking for romance recall Richard Linklater's philosopher slackers and Jim Jarmusch's minimalist attention to conversation...also a subtle, thoughtful film...might be understood as the anti-Crash depiction of life in the city...depicts a comfortably multi-ethnic community...I'd happily recommend it."
- Chuck Tryon, media professor & blogger, The Chutry Experiment blog

film's website:
director's blog:

Copyright 2006 Sujewa Ekanayake/Wild Diner Films

Manhattan, Kansas: on DVD & on tour

Tara Wray's SXSW '06 audience award winning doc Manhattan, Kansas will be on tour in the South in October, DVD available now from the filmmaker.

For tour dates check here.

Here's the intro to the film from the Southern Arts Federation web site:

" When she was nineteen years old, director Tara Wray fled her childhood home of Manhattan, Kansas after her mother, in a mentally unstable state, threatened to kill her. “My mother was my entire life,” she says, “But, we were always running from her demons, both real and imagined.” Her mother’s undiagnosed emotional and mental state terrorized Wray for years. “One minute she was Mom—funny, tiny, strong, a pleasure to be around. Mom,” recalls Wray, “Then she was Not-Mom—scary, dark, shrunken, yet huge. I spent my whole life trying to anticipate which one was present, which one might show up next. It made me a pretty tightly-wound kid.” Following five years of estrangement, Wray knew it was time to go back – with her camera."

Here's a little of what Chuck Tryon has to say about the movie:

"During one of the final scenes of Tara Wray's observant autobiographical documentary, Manhattan, Kansas (IMDB), Tara's mother, Evie, seeking forgiveness for being an irresponsible parent or simply trying to understand herself, tells her daughter, "The past is over." Of course, as William Faulkner reminds us and as Wray's film illustrates, "The past isn't dead, it isn't even past." The scene, for me, underscores the ways in which Manhattan, Kansas offers a fresh and understated consideration of the concepts of family and home through its unblinking look at the strained relationship between Wray and her mother."

Read the rest of Chuck's review here.

The DVDs of Manhattan, Kansas come with hand painted cases/personalized inscription, cost: only $15 (including shipping). Here's the website for the film.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

got a fame whore in the mail today

A Fame Whore DVD that is :) Fame Whore is a 1997 film by Jon Moritsugu. It will soon be out on DVD. The DVD I received today is nicely packaged - excellent cover design. Here is a quoted portion from a review or a description of the movie, from the back of the DVD:

"Fame Whore cuts between three interwoven stories examining our culture's lust for that elusive state when everybody knows your name. The triptych includes an all-American tennis star hounded by rumors that he's gay, a trust fund brat on a demonic quest for celebrity and an idealized innocent so isolated he's created a six-foot Saint Bernard as an imaginary friend."

And I assume that quote is from Filmmaker Magazine. Other praise from LA weekly, Los Angeles Times and Jane magazine can be found on the back of the DVD.

Looking forward to checking out Fame Whore. Will write a review of it here.

- Sujewa

Head Trauma's road show slide show

Check it out here.

Very inspirational for DIY distributors, I think. Thanks for putting it together Lance!

- Sujewa

Upcoming screenings of Jumping Off Bridges

Go Team Bridges! Lots of D.I.Y. distribution action below, from a recent Indie Features 06 post:

Upcoming Screenings of jumping off bridges

For a full list of screenings, visit

San Antonio, TX – 9/30
Saturday, September 30th
Historic Guadalupe Theater (1301 Guadalupe Street @ South Brazos)
Tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the door.
Co-sponsored by the Bexar SPC
Panel discussion will follow the screening featuring.

Austin, TX – 10/3
Tuesday, October 3rd
Alamo Drafthouse South (1120 South Lamar)
Tickets are $10.00 general admission
Advanced Tickets available at:
Co-sponsored by the Travis County SPC
Panel discussion will follow the screening with filmmakers and actors in attendance.

New Haven, CT – 10/5

Thursday, October 5th
Critereon Theater (86 Temple St)
Tickets are $9.00 (Advanced Tickets Available)

Tuscaloosa, AL – 10/5
Thursday, October 5th
Ferguson Center Theater (University of Alabama
Free – Open to the Public

Tallahassee, FL – 10/6 – 10/7
Friday and Saturday, October 6th and 7th
5:45pm and 7:30pm each night
All Saints Cinema
Tickets are $6.00 general admission

Bethel, CT – 10/7
Saturday, October 7th
Bethel Cinema (269 Greenwood Avenue)
Tickets are $9.00 (Advanced Tickets Available)

Monday, September 25, 2006

New website for The Film Panel Notetaker

Congrats Brian! Here is the official press release:

Popular The Film Panel Notetaker Blog Relaunches With New Website

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Sept. 25, 2006 — The Film Panel Notetaker, the first-of-its-kind blog created in 2005 by Brian Geldin, who provides public relations services for burgeoning independent filmmakers, has relaunched with a new website,
The blog, well-regarded among independent filmmakers throughout the country, comprises detailed film panel discussion notes taken by Geldin at various panels he attends at film festivals, conferences, and seminars.

“I created The Film Panel Notetaker as a way for film industry novices, as well as veterans, to access notes at panel discussions they were not able to attend themselves,” said Geldin. “I welcome guest notetakers for panels I cannot attend myself, and I encourage anyone who attends the same panels as me to post their own notes in the blog’s ‘comments’ section.”

Last week, Geldin attended The Independent Feature Project’s (IFP) Filmmaker Conference in New York, where he took notes at several different panel discussions with topics ranging from online social networking to Netflix. He also appeared at and blogged about several film screenings held in conjunction with Independent Film Week such as A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, The Guatemalan Handshake, Head Trauma, and Four Eyed Monsters.

IFP Executive Director Michelle Byrd congratulated Geldin on his blog’s relaunch. “Many thanks for attending and being committed to sharing the information. It's really generous of you,” said Byrd.

“Geldin not only hits up all the film events, speeches, and discussions the rest of us are too lazy to attend, but he actually passes along detailed notes of all the important points and exchanges that arise,” said film journalist S.T. VanAirsdale on his blog, The Reeler (

Prior to relaunching the improved blog, The Film Panel Notetaker was hosted on MySpace. Last week alone, the The Film Panel Notetaker received an average of 90 visitors per day, and more than 500 visitors the entire week. At its highest point last week, the blog ranked 26th out of more than 1,000 other MySpace blogs in the Movies, TV, and Celebrities category.

About Brian Geldin:
Brian Geldin is an active member of the New York independent film and entertainment community, and is a member of IFP. He recently garnered national press for A.M. Peters’ NO Cross, NO Crown, a timely and engaging documentary that explores post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, a town that invented what we know as American music.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Long Lasting, Accessible & In-Control

25 years later, the hardcore punk rockers continue to inspire artists & activists.

I learned about the DIY ethic from the DC punk/indie rock scene of the early 90's, which came out of the (and were mostly some of the same key people) earlier DC harDCore scene of the 80's. Find out about those DC bands (Minor Threat, D.O.A., G.I., Iron Cross, etc. in the 80's & in the post-harDCore 90's: Fugazi, Blue Tip, The Nation of Ulysses, etc.) at the Dischord Records website.

Read all about the new doc about the US hardcore scene, 1980 - 86, titled AMERICAN HARDCORE, at this Filmmaker Magazine interview.

More on this flick coming soon.

- Sujewa

Perhaps the idea of a Medieval Sri Lankan-French merchant colony was not pure fiction after all

One of the repeated items in my movie Date Number One is a discussion about a Sri Lankan-French merchant colony in Medieval Japan. When I wrote the script in '04 I knew of no ancient/pre-2oth century contact between the French and the Sri Lankans. But tonight I found, in a book titled The Heritage of The Bhikkhu, originally published in 1946 in Sinhala & translated to English in 1974, by the monk Walpola Rahula, the following sentence on page 58, chapter: The Dutch Period:

"In 1672 a French fleet arrived in Ceylon. King Rajasimha II, who learned that the French were against the Dutch, permitted them to build a fortress near the harbor of Trincomalee, with the hope of getting their help to defeat the Dutch."

So, if Rahula is correct, then there was significant contact between the French & the Sri Lankans (Ceylon is a former name for Sri Lanka). This contact did not happen in Medieval Japan, but, a French FLEET & a FORTRESS in 1672 Sri Lanka, that is very significant, a part of Sri Lankan history that I did not know, have not heard about until now.

Weird how modern fiction may have unknowingly reflected an old fact.

But how true is what Rahula heard re: this French fleet. If anyone out there is an expert in French history & can point to a French record from 1672 re: a fleet arriving in Sri Lanka & building a fortress there w/ the help of the Sri Lankan king, let me know. Thanks.

- Sujewa

UPDATE: that Wikipedia link re: King Rajasimha II mentions the French, as in their interaction with Sri Lanka may have happened.

UPDATE 2: that Wikipedia link does not seem to work, just search under Rajasimha II at Wikipedia for the article I saw

Thursday, September 21, 2006

it's kind of hard to make a live action romantic comedy without any actors or STONEHENGE: Mass Auditions in DC coming up on Sat 9/30

Yeah, it's pretty difficult to make my low budget superdelicious comedy/romantic comedy movies w/ out actors. Luckily for me, DC's got a thing called Stonehenge - mass auditions for indie films. The next Stonehenge is happening on Sat 9/30. Here is the intro to the event from their web site:

"Stonehenge Basics:

What? Stonehenge is a one-day event held twice a year in Washington DC. If you're an actor, think of it as a mass audition like the League auditions. You'll be able to perform a monologue in front of 20 or more production companies looking to produce films in the next six months. If you're a filmmaker, think of Stonehenge as a mass casting tool, showing you over 100 actors whom you might call back to read for a specific part. If you're a National Film Challenge team looking for actors, this is a great way to find them.

The goal of Stonehenge is to be simple, effective, and inexpensive (free for actors, a small fee for companies). Past Stonehenge information can be found in our archives."

Explore further here.

- Sujewa

wild, a New York Times web page for Date Number One

Not really sure how this happened but it is very cool. The New York Times web site has a relatively empty page (for now maybe, perhaps over time stuff will be added to it) for my film Date Number One. Well, at least someone there knows about the movie. Not a bad thing at all.

Here's the link for the DNO on NYT site page. Enjoy :)

- Sujewa

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Jon "Scumrock" Moritsugu News

For the new kids who do not know who Jon Moritsugu is, here is the 1st paragraph of what the 2002 New York Underground Film Festival said about him & his feature (shot on Hi-8!!!) Scumrock:

" Oh guys --listen up. Do not, we repeat, do not screw yourselves and miss out on this, because everyone who has half a brain and even a milligram of taste knows that Jon Moritsugu is a LIVING FUCKING UNDERGROUND MOVIE GOD and you should be so lucky to be able to prostate [sic] yourselves before his latest work of low-fi genius. An anti-digital video shot entirely on old analog hi8 gear and edited on linear VHS, Scumrock will bathe you in an unbelievably beautiful electronic fuzz both audial and visual but the feel is not New Wave 1982, it's New Wave 1962. With a laid-back pace and poker-faced seriousness Scumrock wraps delicious nuggets of bittersweet realness inside multiple layers of tart poseur irony and spicy postpunk attitude."

Read the rest of the NYUFF intro to Moritsugu/Scumrock here.

Scumrock features Kip Malone from the fast rising & much loved in certain circles Brooklyn band TV On The Radio in a lead role.

Here's the latest Moritsugu news:

1. FAME WHORE (1997) will be out on DVD in September. It will be available on Jon's website.

2. SCUMROCK was broadcast on Free Speech TV, a progressive satellite cable network that is available in 33 states. SCUMROCK was aired as a part of the Monkeywrench movie series on September 17 at 1 AM & 4 AM. Here's a link to the Free Speech TV schedule for that day:

And here's a link to their state affiliates/channels:

That's the latest from Mr. Moritsugu. Looking forward to his next movie.

- Sujewa

Notes on the IFP's DIY Screening Series presentation of The Guatemalan Handshake

Before I get to the link for Brian "The Film Panel Notetaker" Geldin's notes on the event, let me reflect for a moment on the rapid "re-habilitation" of the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) approach to self-distribution. Five years & more ago DIY distribution was a very unusual thing undertaken by underground filmmakers such as Jon Moritsugu or the mostly "ethnic" minority/non-"white" audience targeted projects such as The Debut or Sankofa. This year the Independent Feature Project is doing a special screening series highlighting self-distributed movies that are not specially targeted to underground or minority audiences (although The Guatemalan Handshake is not being self-distributed at the moment as far as I know - aside from film festival & special event screenings, but the series' upcoming presentations: Head Trauma & Four Eyed Monsters are definitely DIY distro projects), the Independent Film Channel's website recently wrote about DIY distribution, wrote about DIY distribution & will be writing about it in the future. So what does this mean? We are seeing the not-too-slow indiewoodization of DIY filmmaking & distribution. Not a bad thing at all for myself & other current DIY filmmakers - we get more press, except eventually, maybe soon, we will hear about multi-million dollar "DIY" movies featuring Hollywood actors, distributed by the indie arms of major studios. When that happens we will just have to come up with another label for ultra-low budget, no star, self-distributed films. Anyway, that little rant aside, here is the link to Brian Geldin's notes. Enjoy. I have not seen The Guatemalan Handshake, but am looking forward to checking it out at some point. Thanks Brian for taking the notes & sharing them with us.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Appreciating the Pioneer Theater

The post here will tell you all about a Village Voice article not doing its proper research and calling the Pioneer Theater in NYC a sloppy operation. And the post goes on to praise the Pioneer & programmer Ray Privett for working well with filmmakers & honoring agreements in a timely manner, contrary to the picture painted by the Voice article. The East Village art house theater may have had significant problems in its operation in the past, but the Pioneer I encountered this year was a well oiled machine, easy to work with and very responsive. If all indie film theaters functioned like the Pioneer, the lives of a lot of real indie filmmakers & indie film fans may improve significantly. The Voice should be celebrating the Pioneer instead of publishing sloppy articles that unfairly criticize a valuable member of the US indie film scene. While many so-called indie film theaters in the nation are in reality outlets for indiewood product channeled through the Hollywood pipeline and are generally shut off to indie filmmakers without Hollywood/indiewood backing, the Pioneer is open to real indie filmmakers with good movies, and is glad to work with such filmmakers. Go here to read some positive statements about the Pioneer, made by people who have actually dealt with the theater in recent times.

Thanks GreenCine Daily for the link.

- Sujewa

GreenCine interviews Michael Tucker re: false imprisonment in Iraq doc

Think there is something horribly wrong with tens of thousands of humans being held in prison by the US without trials? Then find out more about exactly how fucked up the situation is at this GreenCine interview with filmmaker Michael Tucker. Here is the introduction to the interview:

" If you're at a loss for what to make of the official US rhetoric on our momentum toward victory in Iraq, see the documentaries of Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein. They made Gunner Palace, one of the best docs on the war in Iraq from the point of view of US soldiers two years ago, and they returned to this month's Toronto International Film Festival with their new doc, The Prisoner, or: How I Tried to Kill Tony Blair, the war seen from the point of view of an Iraqi captured by the same American troops."

The prisoner that the title of the film refers to is an Iraqi journalist who was imprisoned & ill-treated for months while his jailers - soldiers & other US authorities - kept insisting that the journalist was planning to assasinate Tony Blair, even though no proof of such a plot was ever found.

Read the entire article here.

Evil behavior often results in evil retaliations. False imprisonment of thousands of people will make for us in the US many more determined & bitter enemies. Yeah, not a good thing for our war on terrorism.

- Sujewa

Monday, September 18, 2006

Date Number One screening # 11: Thu October 5, 7:30 PM, Kensington, MD

And you thought Date Number One screenings were all done, didn't ya? Silly human. We are just getting started. Screening # 12 was just set up in DC for early Nov. & a couple of 1 week long runs are in the works, but before we get to all that, here is all the info. on screening # 11, at Capital City Microcinema/Kensington Row Bookshop. The new & improved version of the film will unspool (or, to be more accurate, digital info will convert to images & sound, whatever that process is called) for the first time at this screening (& I might have some of them brand new retail DVDs of the flick for sale at this event):

a comedy about several first dates
a movie by sujewa ekanayake

Thu Oct 5, 2006 :: 7:30 PM :: $5
Capital City Microcinema at
Kensington Row Bookshop
3786 Howard Ave., Kensington, MD 20895
301.949.9416 :: MapQuest :: Directions

"Date Number One" is a comedy about several first dates. This 115 minute movie is made up of 5 different stories: Story 1: Just Another Ninja Searching For Love, about a ninja who goes on a blind date (ninja is played by John Stabb Schroeder from the DC punk band G.I.), Story 2: A Romantic Dinner For 3, about a woman attempting to add a third partner to a romantic relationship, Story 3: Washington "City Of Love" DC/Start Over, about a writer who tries to get back together with his ex-girlfriend, Story 4: Air Quotes Woman, about a woman who always uses air quotes, and her search for a new boyfriend, Story 5: The Superdelicious French Lesson, about a first date where a character learns a little bit of French in an unusual way.

Featuring Hot DC Indie Film Stars John Stabb Schroeder, Julia Stemper, Jennifer Blakemore, Shervin Boloorian, Dele Williams, Steve Lee, Kelly Ham, Christine D. Lee, Fritz Flad, Subodh Samudre, Jewel Greenberg

Not Rated * 115 Minutes * yummy

"The film is about as charming as they come...presents a world in which cultures don't clash, they mesh. It's refreshing to see characters who all appear to have a natural optimism, as opposed to the typical indie-film predilection for bitterness and cruelty. "
- Michael Tully, Rotterdam & SXSW film festivals selected filmmaker

"I found the characters and the premise sexy, sexy, sexy."
- Jerry Brewington, Hollywood Is Talking blog, on Story 2 of Date Number One

"...witty...often inventive...and, even better, airy: characters are given time and space to spell out their views...views that never bear the artificial markings of a Hollywood screenwriter's compulsion to reduce them to sound-bites."
- David Hudson, Editor, GreenCine Daily blog

"FIVE really entertaining, fully realized romantic interludes...a shamefully rare achievement"
- Tom Kipp, Seattle audience member, former film reviewer for Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger

"Heartfelt...poignant...I loved it! "
- Jon Moritsugu, award winning filmmaker

"Date Number One is quite funny...twentysomethings and occasional thirtysomethings looking for romance recall Richard Linklater's philosopher slackers and Jim Jarmusch's minimalist attention to conversation...also a subtle, thoughtful film...might be understood as the anti-Crash depiction of life in the city...depicts a comfortably multi-ethnic community...I'd happily recommend it."
- Chuck Tryon, media professor & blogger, The Chutry Experiment blog


film's website:
director's blog:

Copyright 2006 Sujewa Ekanayake/Wild Diner Films

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Film Panel Notetakers notes from Sun 9/17 IFP Filmmaker Conference panel event

Read them here, features a conversation between Scott Macaulay of Filmmaker Mag & a head of Miramax. Thanks Brian!


Watched Shadows and Funny Ha Ha last night

The Potomac Video near Chevy Chase Circle (DC) is awesome. Pretty much any hard to find or rare indie/foreign movie I want, they have. Huge collection downstairs - a lot on VHS, & a lot on DVD. Last night I picked up two movies I've been wanting to check out for a while: John Cassavetes' Shadows & Andrew Bujalski's Funny Ha Ha.

Watched Shadows first. As a historical artifact, it is fascinating. As entertainment - it is OK. But, like Citizen Kane, to some it must have been something awesome at its debut period. The music in Shadows was good, jazz. Also it was brave of Cassavetes to tackle an "interracial"* romance related storyline in his first feature, made in the mid to late 1950's, a conservative time that was also cooking up, in the basement, massive social changes that would erupt above ground & shake & re-arrange life in the US in the 1960's & after. The film foreshadows some of the conflicts & changes - the sexual revolution, "race" relations/desegregation, that awaited the nation. Shadows tells three main stories: the core one is about a young light skinned African-American woman & the young "white" man to whom she loses her virginity. The other two stories are about the woman's brothers: one a professional singer with work difficulties and the other who spends most of his on screen time hanging out with a couple of friends picking up, or trying to pick up, women. One of the pleasant treats in Shadows is being able to observe streets of NYC in the late 1950's through black and white cinematography. Also clothing & hair details, slang, & character mannerisms that must, to some degree, reflect late 1950's hipster/creative lives. Even if it feels like that Cassavetes sometimes fails in fully achieving whatever goals he may have had for various scenes in the movie, the project has an epic & electric quality to it. There is a lot to see & absorb in Shadows. Another viewing of the film maybe necessary to fully appreciate that unique film. I am looking forward to checking out all the extras that came on the DVD. I am also looking forward to watching the movie in a theater at some point in the future - the movie feels too big for a television screen.

I have often noticed that distribution company press & publicity material, reviewers, critics and fans often compare certain new indie filmmakers to Cassavetes, as in so and so is the next Cassavetes, blah, blah, blah. After seeing Shadows, I can confidently say that I have not yet seen a work by ANY of the several dozen important & much publicized post-Shadows US indie filmmakers that would warrant its maker the honor of being called the next Cassavetes. Which leads us to Andrew Bujalski, a filmmaker who sometimes has been falsely annointed (so far, & well, its all opinion I guess, so that's a soft false :) the next Cassavetes.

After recovering from Shadows, I watched Andrew Bujalski's 2001 film Funny Ha Ha. Full disclosure: Andrew is an acquaintance, seems like a cool dude, sometimes we exchange brief & pleasant e-mails re: indie film matters. And I really liked his recent movie Mutual Appreciation (now screening in various theaters). But, for me, Funny Ha Ha is no Mutual Appreciation. Unlike Funny's DVD label, I would never use the adjective "hilarious" to describe the movie. Funny is basically a good re-enactment type film that tells the story of a recent college graduate & her very minor dramatic & comic moments related to romance, friendship & employment. Funny is relatively well made for a first time low budget 16MM color feature. The characters in Funny are the kind of people I would find to be nice but dull in real life. The characters in Mutual are similar to some of the people I have hung out with over the last couple of decades: creative types who are into indie rock, often very interesting & colorful, entertaining people. So that could be one of the reasons why I like Mutual but am not a fan of Funny. The first time I tried to watch Funny it was perhaps a year or so ago on cable (IFC?), after 10 mins or so I changed the channel. But after seeing & liking Mutual I wanted to give Funny another chance. I am not really sure what A. O. Scott & other reviewers who are quoted on the cover of Funny's DVD saw in the movie which warranted the glowing praise, but, for me, THE Bujalski movie to watch is Mutual Appreciation. Funny provides very little entertainment, almost no comedy & almost no drama. But, even if Funny Ha Ha is very overrated by some reviewers & critics, at least it led to the much better Mutual Appreciation. So, as a recent indie film historical artifact, Funny has some value.

Overall, as an indie filmmaker & a fan of the genre, I am glad I saw both movies. Their entertainment value is debatable (specially in the case of Funny), but both movies do make reality, actual existence, some major (reflected in Shadows) or some very minor (reflected in Funny Ha Ha) obstacles & joys in life more special & sacred. Shadows is a must see for most indie filmmakers working in America - to get a glimpse of the genre's heritage, foundation & often unfulfilled possibilities. Shadows is also a must see for all scholars of American indie film.

- Sujewa

* note: the word interracial in the Shadows plot description is in quotes because I do not believe in the theory of race or grouping people based on external features, geographic point of origin of families, & assigning an Indian caste system type roles & expectations to the said groupings as it was done under segregation & apartheid. visit here for more on that.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mutual Appreciation star Justin Rice's Chilean Adventure

The "star" of a small, self-distributed US indie feature gets VIP treatment in Chile. Here is a taste of Mutual Appreciation's lead actor Justin Rice's notes from his trip to Chile to accompany a screening of the film at a festival there:

" Then it got surreal. I went to a lunch at the Bi-National Center, and sat
at the head of a giant table complete with white tablecloth. As the
waiters, who looked sharp in their tuxedos, poured glasses of wine and
served up the four-course meal, I was introduced to various filmmakers,
producers, festival programmers, and animators, most of whom were old, and
all of whom were baffled that young people responded so well to the
festival in general and to Mutual Appreciation in particular. A few weeks
ago, the U.S. embassy asked me for a bio, and I wrote one that was meant,
mostly, to be funny. Tounge, cheek, etc. They had translated this bio
into Spanish, and read aloud to the assembled host. I had a little ear
bug so I could hear the translator, who hovered behind everyone and
pretended not to exist."

Sounds like something that would happen in an Andrew Bujalski movie. Hilarious (big smile on my face as I type this).

Here is the link. Enjoy.

Mutual Appreciation is now screening in various US theaters. Check here for dates.

- Sujewa

Kat Candler meets George Romero: Notes from the Jumping Off Bridges Road Show

Team Jumping Off Bridges is taking their movie across the country on a D.I.Y. tour. Read the latest update here, by the director of the movie Kat Candler.

- Sujewa

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bittersweet editing experience: HUGE changes are being made to Date Number One :: Got $s for the 1st 1000 DVDs

I dig the technical "flaws" in movies such as Godard's Breathless & Moritsugu's Scumrock, but many of my important peers in the indie film biz do not & certainly not many of the US audience members who I want to make happy with my movie. So, as painful as it is, major changes are being made to Date Number One. So, the version of the movie that will be screened on 10/5 will be much more "slick" & much, much less "rough", and will be shorter - perhaps by as much as 10 minutes. Since the movie represents not just my dreams/wishes/ambitions but the dreams of investors & actors & other collaborators AND more importantly, there are certain basic audience expectations (including reviewer expectations) that must be met in order to get a certain number of ticket & DVD sales in the US at this point in time, sacrifices are being made.

The new version of Date Number One will not have the scenes w/ the iris problem in Story 2 (where the image brightness fluctuates) - thus altering the story significantly, in my opinion.
But the new story that emerges is just as interesting, but perhaps less innocent.

Also, jarring jumpcuts are being taken away - there was one in Story 1 & one in Story 5, those will be gone. "Good" jump cuts remain, most are in Story 2.

Couple of shots that have somewhat erratic camera moves remain because there are no other shots to replace those with & those moments are essential to the stories, cannot be cut out. The remaining camera work is however not as "difficult" as it was in certain moments in another '06 ultra-low budget movie - The Puffy Chair. So I do not feel very bad about allowing certain audiences to experience the movie while the movie retains some "rough"-ness in the camera work department. Or, as an audience member, I did not feel terribly alienated from the good stuff in Puffy/the overall movie (looking forward to seeing it again) because of several moments where the camera work was rough - so the same could happen with future DNO audiences.

Is it cool to make huge changes to a movie after its been seen by a significant number of people (in the case of Date Number One, about 400 so far) & important reviewers? That's up to each director to decide. But, Cassavetes did it with Shadows, and apparently the second version of the movie - made one or two years after the original version - is much better according to most reviewers & fans. So, yeah, it is entirely possible that big changes are OK even after a significant number of people have seen a version/the original version of the movie.

Sound & music are being completely re-worked for the new version of Date Number One. The original version was a very Dogme 95 type approach - just allow the best quality location sound, no need to build dozens of tracks to make the soundscape deep & busy. But, the virtue of having a very designed sound is that it can improve the image/the experience of the image in the mind of the viewer & the overall reaction to the movie (something I learned/was reminded about at Kelley Baker's sound design workshop earlier this year). So, I am looking at Amelie & Drugstore Cowboy as models for sound & music use. Major changes are being made to the sound of DNO (more tracks, using cleaner location sound, pulling good audio from a take with bad images & marrying that good audio with good images), and many more music tracks are being added.

Ultimately, the new changes, although having to make them makes me sad, will allow me to push the movie to a wider US audience with confidence - knowing that there aren't many technical "problems" that would make watching the movie an unpleasant experience to them.
Basically, as the distributor, I want my customers to end up with a product that they are happy with.

All the reviewers who have written about the earlier version of the flick - including Chuck Tryon, Jerry Brewington, David Hudson - will receive a DVD of the new version of the movie in early October. Perhaps they will check it out at some point & render a verdict as to the relative improvement or the lack of improvement in the movie, compared to the version they saw earlier.

Looking forward to showing the new version of the movie to the audience at the 10/5 Capital City Microcinema/Kensington Row Bookshop screening.


One of my investors has come up with the money to make 1000 retail DVDs of Date Number One (cost: around $1300). So, as planned, the film (the new & improved version) will be available for sale, on DVD, in late September/early October.

That's the latest, talk to you soon.

- Sujewa
ps: more screenings coming in rest of '06, after 10/5, & in '07. will announce dates & times in the coming weeks.

Great Moments in Indie Film Self-Distribution History: 2001 - The Debut by Gene Cajayon

" The result? The first week at AMC Kabuki, "The Debut" outdrew every other screen at that theater -- $30,000 in admissions. The film also spurred $15,000 in merchandising sales, which Cajayon credits as essential to the film's success.

It was the last four-walling he would have to do. He now has a rep, and splits with the house."

Read all about it on this 2001 indieWIRE article.

- Sujewa

Thursday, September 14, 2006 article asks "Is there money in self-distribution?"

And the answer is affirmative, at least in the case of Lance Weiler/The Last Broadcast. Read the article here.

- Sujewa

Netflix's got big plans for indie filmmakers

This Wired article spotlights Netflix's work with indie filmmakers. Of special interest: 1) Netflix buying 500 DVDs of an undistributed indie film from its maker & the film getting on HBO possibly because of Netflix customer interest, 2) future possibility of Netflix taking a look at all 3,000 or so Sundance film festival submissions BEFORE the fest selects or rejects films. Read the article here. Thanks Anthony Kaufman for the link.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

3 images from the opening 5 mins of Date Number One

subodh samudre as Ananda, the bookstore worker

rashard harrison as Watalappan, a bookstore customer

[i am playing around with the screen capture function on this lap top that i am using right now, these images are from the opening 5 mins of Date Number One. enjoy.]

& john stabb schroeder as Mark H. Temonium, the ninja!

more pics coming soon



Copyright 2006 Sujewa Ekanayake/Wild Diner Films

Possible alternatives: Fan financed indie film via DVD pre-sales, Distribution through YouTube + blog exposure + DIY screenings + DVD sales ?

Two things gave me idea #1:

1. I needed a couple of hundred dollars last summer to pay for an editing related expense for Date Number One, did not want to wait 'till I got my dayjob pay, so I asked a friend who likes my movies if he wanted to loan me the money. He said he will just pre-buy 10 DVDs of Date Number One instead of doing a loan, w/ units to be delivered to him whenever they are available for sale. It was a simple solution, so I went ahead with that transaction: 10 DVDs were sold in advance, I had most of the $s I needed to solve the editing problem.

2. I will go see (or buy or rent on DVD) works by certain filmmakers regardless of what reviewers & other audience members say about the works - stuff by Jim Jarmusch, Amir Motlagh, Hal Hartley, Jon Moritsugu, etc. Filmmakers with such a hard core fan base maybe able to pay for the production & start of distro (at least making a few thousand DVDs) cost of certain ultra-low budget films of theirs by pre-selling the DVD of the movie to their fans. Let's say Hartley wants to do an ultra-low budget digital feature for around $50,000. All he would need to do that film completely independently $s wise would be to have 2500 of his biggest fans pre-order the DVD to the new film @ $20 each.

So, idea/possibility #1 for today is the financing your ultra-low budget film through pre-selling the DVD to your fans idea. Could work well for some indie filmmakers. Could definitely work for Kevin Smith, since, last time I checked, he had over 10,000 MySpace friends for his most recent film Clerks II.

But what if you are just starting out, got a killer/audience pleasing film, but you are not Andrew Bujalski (i kid :), Mutual Appreciation deserves all the press its getting right now), anyway, back to the idea: you've got an awesome film BUT the big festivals or indie theaters or influential reviewers or distributors are not into your film? Possibly useful idea #2 of the day is about using YouTube + your blog + DVDs to sell your work to your audience.

YouTube gets a lot of press & thousands of people check out clips on that site every day. So post an excellent clip (or clips) from your movie on YouTube, maybe over the course of a few months you may get at least several hundred views. Direct (from the clip, add a title, also through links on your page) interested YouTube audience members to visit your website & or blog to find out more about your film & you & also to purchase a DVD of your film (get a PayPal account set up, will make the sale easier I think). Depending on the price of the DVD, over time you could make some very useful amounts of money from your D.I.Y. (Do-It-Yourself) DVD marketing & sales efforts. Also start up a blog & talk about your film, your YouTube clips, your experience with making & marketing & selling your film. Blogging should help you make at least some blogger friends, and that could mean more press for your film, more $s from your film.

Good luck. Later on.

- Sujewa

YouTube trailers page & Blogger blog coming soon for US DIY Film yahoo group members

Working on it now, read the update to members below:

The plan is to post video clips on YouTube and promote, discuss them at a blog.

Test blog & YouTube page for attempting to offer trailers & clips from works by members of the US DIY Film yahoo group have been created. Both web pages will be fine tuned & tested out in the next few days. Before this weekend is over I should be able to post info. on how the US DIY Film yahoo group members can start using both the blog & the corresponding YouTube page. In the meantime, here are the links to both for you to bookmark:

The blog:

The YouTube page:

To participate in all this, if you are a DIY filmmaker interested in self-distribution, join the US DIY Film yahoo group.


- Sujewa

New article on GreenCine

At least this looks new to me, posted on 9/10/06, article by Matthew Ross re: everyone's favorite blog & its parent comany GreenCine. Check it out (you'll need to register to read beyond the first couple of lines).

- Sujewa

DIY distribution friendly indie theaters & contact info list

Lance "Head Trauma" Weiler just posted a list of DIY distribution friendly indie film theaters, tips on dealing with theaters & contact info. at the US DIY Film yahoo group. Join the group & check out the useful info. future DIY distributors!

- Sujewa

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"cartoon" version of pic from inside Pioneer Theater, NYC, 8/31 - Date Number One premiere

one of my photo editing software packages can create a "cartoon" version of photos. reminds me a little of images from Waking Life. this pic is of me & pioneer programmer ray in front of some audience members doing post-show q&a on 8/31, following the Date Number One NYC premiere at the Pioneer Theater.

original photo by Brian Geldin (!thanks brian!)

photo/image copyright 2006 sujewa ekanayake/wild diner films

Friday, September 08, 2006

Date Number One '07 Theatrical Plan: 12 US cities, 1 week each, Jan - June

The first part of the year, actually pretty deep into late summer/early fall, there aren't too many great Hollywood movies out, & the indiewood movies that are out are targeted mostly to an older demographic than my peers, so, next year, my plan is to show Date Number One for 1 week each in 12 US cities, one after the other (well, w/ a 1 week break in between the start of each engagement), w/in the first 6 months of the year: January to end of June 2007.

Hopefully those theatrical engagements will not have to be four-walled runs, but rather Head Trauma '06 esque collaborations between myself & the theaters. Additional expenses: any paid marketing, travel, etc. can be covered by one of my investors & any savings from '06 & maybe '07 dayjob work, provided those expenses are relatively low. Plus $s from DVD sales this year may assist w/ '07 theatrical related expenses. And I am going to try to get paid speaking engagements/work shops, Lance Weiler '06 style, to make additional cash while I am on the road in '07. And merch, must make & sell merchandise - well, merch #1 - the DVD, is being prepared now.

At the end of this month I will have the very final version of the movie ready, along with the DVD, version 1, ready for sale. And throughout this month & next I will be mailing out screeners to theaters, bloggers, festivals, & film reviewers who work in various media to set up screenings & press opportunities for rest of this year & next.

One-off & weekend screenings & DVD sales for the rest of '06 for Date Number One. Week long theatrical engagements, one-off & weekend screenings, possible festival screenings & DVD sales in '07. That should be the rest of the immediate distribution story for Date Number One.

An indie film cable channel broadcast of the flick at some point next year would be awesome, must look into getting that going.

Not sure how VOD fits into these distribution plans. At some point along the line VOD should kick in. Need to see what (& exactly when) Apple does with their iTune movie download thingy also.

Then, at some point in summer '07, I expect to begin shooting my next feature. Working very casually on the script for that next film right now.

Much planning & preparation for '07 DNO theatrical & other distro ahead. Will write all about it here as things happen.

Theaters, DVD retailers, film festivals, media, volunteers, indie cable TV channels, VOD companies, theatrical audience members & DVD customers interested in joining the Date Number One '06 - '07 distribution party can e-mail me for further discussion at: wilddiner AT Thanks!

- Sujewa

Rick Stevenson joins the '06 Self-Distribution club

The big new story in indie film this year is self-distribution. The story got started way back in early '06 with Four Eyed Monsters distro news. Then it continued with stories on Kicking Bird, Head Trauma, Date Number One (that's my movie! :), Mutual Appreciation, Jumping Off Bridges, etc. As regular readers of this blog know, I am all about celebrating self-distribution, so if you missed any of the original entries re: self-distro of mentioned films, go back & look: it's archives time baby! The latest filmmaker to get major blog press re: self-distribution this year is Rick Stevenson from Seattle. His film Expiration Date sounds very interesting (bonus points for the minority - Native American - lead, go Rick!), looking forward to checking it out. Here is the GreenCine interview with Stevenson.

- Sujewa
special thanks goes out to Jerry "Hollywood Is Talking" Brewington for pointing out the GreenCine interview. thanks JB!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

BUMS from Canada

The brothers Jason & Brett Butler from Canada mailed me a DVD of their movie BUMS last week. It is going on my now 2 titles deep list of movies to watch (I rented BRICK about a week ago, still have not gotten to it), so I expect to see it at some point this month. Even though I am officially out of the film review game, I will occasionally check out & write about other people's movies, as time permits. Either way, here is a description of BUMS, from the DVD's cover:
" A day in the life comedy, BUMS follows the lives of six friends as their relationships blur together to produce love, laugh, lethargy and a loose canon. BUMS is an insightful and provocative look at life neither here nor there on a day like any other day - when you don't have a clue what you're doing but all the time in the world to do it." Sounds interesting. Here is the web site, explore more.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

3 down, 9997 to go

How do you sell 10,000 DVDs of your no-budget, no star but superdelicious feature? Well, if you are a no-budget, DIY process addicted self-distributor like myself, then you do it 1 DVD at a time.

The retail DVDs of Date Number One are not ready yet, but I am working on them. Should have them ready for sale by the end of this month.

And just because the DVD is being sold does not mean that screenings are over. Not in the post-Funny Ha Ha/Mutual Appreciation age where an indie film can do cable or DVD & then still keep playing theaters. More screenings than ever will be happening in '06 & '07 for DNO, while I am selling the DVDs.

Crooked Beat, a local DC record & CD & DVD store ordered 3 DVDs of Date Number One today. When those sell, they'll ask for more.

My first major sales goal for DNO DVDs is 10,000 units. A goal that is to be accomplished when possible. Hopefully w/in 2 years.

So 3 DVDs placed with a retailer, and just only 9997 to go :) :) :)

Retail stores (brick & mortar or web) interested in selling the Date Number One DVD can e-mail me at wilddiner AT

Back to my music, it's 1992 or 1994 on my CD player, Fugazi's In On The Kill Taker is on, bought a brand new copy today at Crooked Beat, DIY music for a DIY filmmaker. There's a song about John Cassavetes in that album.

Oh, while I was at Crooked Beat I ran into & chatted with Basla from the Dischord band Beauty Pill, it was a most excellent moment.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New Yahoo Group for DIY Filmmakers/Self-Distributors

I just created a Yahoo Group for DIY filmmakers/self-distributors. Hopefully it will quickly evolve into a place where DIY filmmaker/distributors can ask each other questions, get answers re: distribution & production matters - w/ out having to post Qs at the Comments section at various blogs/entries & waiting around 'till they get answered, which is how it is happening now. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, here is the link (go join!):

And here is the official introduction to the group:

" This group is an attempt to create a forum of communication for US based self-distributing low budget filmmakers or independent/D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) filmmakers. Group started & moderated by Sujewa Ekanayake, director & distributor of the 2006 comedy feature Date Number One ( Hopefully this group will offer a place for filmmakers to quickly figure out answers to production & distribution questions and also a place to share experience for the benefit of other filmmaker/distributors."


- Sujewa

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Independent film gets more independent than ever in 2006 with the arrival of 7 new features in theaters

What were the films that defined independent film back in the 1980s & 1990s? What were they like? How were they made? Most of them were character studies. They were mostly dialogue driven. They were made for budgets that were ultra-low by Hollywood standards: from around $20,000 to around $150,000. They did not feature any Hollywood stars or television personalities. These original indie films that I speak of are: Stranger Than Paradise by Jim Jarmusch, She's Gotta Have It by Spike Lee, The Unbelievable Truth by Hal Hartley in the 1980s, and Slacker by Richard Linklater, Clerks by Kevin Smith in the early 1990s. Each of those films introduced a new American filmmaking sensibility, plus unknown directors and unknown actors to the world.

Between 1984s Stranger Than Paradise and 1994s Pulp Fiction, independent film went Hollywood, and thus Indiewood was born. Indiewood came quickly into maturity in the 1990s assisted to a large degree by the Sundance Film Festival and Miramax Films. Indiewood is an arrangement that resulted in the multi-million dollar budgeted, Sundance film festival honored, Hollywood actors starring Little Miss Sunshine being promoted & sold nation wide as an independent film in 2006.

Another significant but so far barely noticed film event of 2006 is the re-invention of the independent film industry by a significant number of filmmakers embracing self-distribution. Real indie film struck back against the total Hollywoodization of independent film this year by returning to its mostly character & dialogue driven & no-star roots with 7 ultra-low budget, high quality D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) produced & self-distributed feature films hitting the US theaters & alternative screening venues. The films are: Kicking Bird by Kelley Baker, LOL by Joe Swanberg, Mutual Appreciation by Andrew Bujalski, Four Eyed Monsters by Arin Crumley and Susan Buice, Date Number One by Sujewa Ekanayake (that would be me, if I didn't write this article it may never exist, so, in true D.I.Y. fashion, I am cool w/ doing the work to point out an important occurrence in the film world), Jumping Off Bridges by Kat Candler, and Head Trauma by Lance Weiler. This new batch of indie filmmakers go further than their 1980s & 1990s predecessors by embracing self-distribution. The existence of the web as an inexpensive marketing & communication tool, and the acceptability of digital formats for projection by theaters have enabled the new indie filmmakers of 2006 to embrace self-distribution. All of the self-distributed films mentioned above are either film festival selections, award winners, or audience and reviewer pleasing projects. Collectively the films are scheduled to play over one hundred screenings at various cities of the country during the remainder of 2006, with as many screenings having already occurred.

Lance Weiler leads the pack among these new self-distributing filmmakers by having made a profit (& continuing to make money on) his first self-distributed feature The Last Broadcast. Weiler is opening his new feature Head Trauma in about 20 theaters, with most runs being at least 1 week long, and has organized a nation wide DVD release that will immediately follow the theatrical run. In Lance Weiler a sustainable model for building a profitable indie film career through self-distribution can be found.

Two well researched and well written articles, each about some of the films & filmmakers mentioned above, have recently appeared in and Here are the links, follow this story further at these places: story on Mutual Appreciation, Date Number One, and Head Trauma

indieWIRE story on Four Eyed Monsters and Head Trauma

And here are the official websites for each movie, along with links to pages that list screenings:

Kicking Bird


Four Eyed Monsters

Mutual Appreciation

Head Trauma
screenings (scroll down)

Date Number One


Jumping Off Bridges


The new wave, the DIY distribution wave, in American indie filmmaking is here. And it is good news for many because the DIY indie path allows those filmmakers who are willing to do the work and those who are willing to work at developing their skills to build a filmmaking career without the difficult-to-get support and endorsement of Hollywood or Indiewood. This current situation featuring ultra low budget digital video film production and self-distribution is an old filmmaking dream of independence made real, a wonderful event, a reflection of the vibrancy, innovation and the adaptability of the ever growing independent film community.

- Sujewa

This essay is dedicated to Sarah Jacobson, Jon Moritsugu, Gene Cajone, and Greg Pak, 4 filmmakers who have kept the idea & practice of self-distribution alive & relevant in the years leading up to 2006/year 1 of the Indie Film Self-Distribution Movement.

Friday, September 01, 2006 profiles Mutual Appreciation, Date Number One, Head Trauma & self-distribution of those projects

Very exciting to be featured in a story on self-distribution at the IFC website. The story is an IFC News item titled "The Final Frontier of Filmmaking: Three Stories of Self-Distribution" written by Alison Wilmore. Here is a paragraph from the article:

"These days, a crowded market and the sheer difficulty of making money on a theatrical release has made distributors wary of taking any chances, and often when an offer is made, it's not at all favorable towards the filmmaker. Suddenly self-distribution, once an unthinkable rarity, seems like a viable option for filmmakers who are willing to do the work to get their films on screens. September may be the month self-distribution comes into its own. The three filmmakers profiled below are all in the midst of releasing their own films, and they're not the only ones."

The filmmakers & projects profiled are: Andrew Bujalski & Mutual Appreciation, myself (Sujewa Ekanayake) & Date Number One, and Lance Weiler & Head Trauma.

Read the article here.

Thanks for writing about DIY distribution Alison (& of course IFC)!

- Sujewa



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